Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thoughts on the Immigration Ban...

If you have been following my blog for a long while, you'll notice that I don't post about political things very often. The main reason for this is that I don't like debates...and whenever  you share your political opinion, you can be sure it will spark a debate. Well, once in a great while, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on current political events. But you can be sure that I probably won't respond to any comments people leave on what I write. Mostly because these comment debates usually don't go anywhere...both parties usually just end up really frustrated with one another, and both tend to end up misunderstanding the other.

So, what current political events have made me feel compelled to comment? You can probably guess based on what everyone seems to be talking about these days. I am referring to the President's executive order in which people from 7 different Muslim majority countries were temporarily banned from being able to enter the United States. From what I understand these countries were chosen because they have a high level of terrorist activity. The thought is that this ban will protect the U.S. from potential immigration of terrorists from these countries, and the administration wants to use this time that the ban is in place to work on improving the vetting process of immigrants. I think I explained all that correctly...it's hard to get a good picture of the truth when so many are explaining it differently because of their political biases.

So, what do I think about it? Well, I think I've come to a decision about what I think about it, but I want to explain where my mind was before I decided. I really struggled for a while because I have good Christian friends who are on both sides of this debate. I'd hear the arguments both sides were making, and I thought both sides brought up really good points...that made sense to me. I had some Christian friends who were making the argument that we should never block immigration because of texts like Leviticus 19:33 & 34 in which the LORD says to Israel, When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (ESV) I thought...okay, that makes sense. Then I'd hear people on the other side saying that we have to protect ourselves as a nation...it makes good sense that when terrorist attacks keep happening, we need to do what we can to stop it, so this is a good solution. I'd hear that and think that it made sense, too.

I was in this place for most of this past weekend...until Monday...every day I listen to Al Mohler's podcast. It's called "The Briefing" and in it he discusses current events, and how Christians should view these events...or at least he provides guidance for how we can think through how to respond Biblically to current events. On Monday, he addressed this travel ban, and he said something that really helped the pieces come together for me...it finally made sense why I felt so conflicted. He basically stated that we have to be careful that we don't get the role of the church and the government mixed up. The church is called to love and reach out to everyone...including refugees...to share the Gospel with them, and to welcome them into our churches with open arms. To do as Israel was called to do in Leviticus 19:33 & 34. We are to "love [them] as [ourselves]", because we were once strangers like them...in need of salvation...we are no better than them. However, this is not what the government is called to do. I wish I could go into all that the Bible says about he purpose and role of government, but there is not the room to do it here...and there are others who have done a much better job writing about it...click here to read one that I read and found very helpful. Let me just summarize some of the ideas, though...Biblically, the government is called to protect people and act for the common good of those they are governing. Terrorism is a real problem...I don't think anyone can argue against that truth...so, I think it is well within the bounds of what the Bible says about government for our government to do something like this.

Now, let me preemptively address a potential argument someone may make back to me. You might say, "well, that text in Leviticus 19 is addressed to Israel...Israel is a nation. You talked about what the LORD says to them as if it applied to the church, and not to government. Didn't Israel have a government? Wouldn't that text then apply to all governments?" To that I would say, Israel was not your normal nation. The the Israelites were God's chosen people. He had a special purpose for them to display His glory to the nations...to represent Him on earth. In the U.S., we are not God's chosen people...we do not have the same mission that Israel did. So, the reason I applied that text in Leviticus to the Church, is because the church is God's chosen people. Israel is as well, but we, as a church, are chosen by God. We are the ones who are to be representatives of the LORD here on earth...we are to display His glory to the nations. Again, that is not the government's job.

So, Christians...lets seek to understand the distinction between what the church is called to do, and what the government is called to do. We have very different purposes that God has for us. You can on one hand love refugees and desire to see them saved (both spiritually and physically), while still thinking it is good that the government block them temporarily for safety purposes.

And just one last thing...all I've said does not mean I totally agree with how this ban was put into action...from what I understand things were not communicated well at the beginning when it was first put into action...but I would say that the underlying purpose for it, and the goal it is trying to accomplish is good.

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